The Toughest Creature On Earth
16-08-2017 1:13pm | by Web Desk
The Toughest Creature Ever Discovered On Earth – Tardigrades or “Water Bears”
Few organisms on this planet match the endurance and tenacity of the Tardigrade. Better known to most as water bears, or moss piglets, these titans of the animal world can survive the most extreme conditions the Earth has to offer. Cauldrons of boiling lava in the deep recesses of volcanoes, the frigid snow and ice of the arctic, and ionizing radiation in doses that would make Chernobyl look like a nice vacation spot and kill a human being a hundred times over.
Most impressive of all, though, these resistant little lifeforms can survive the intense vacuum of outer space naked. NASA ejected hundreds of tardigrades into the vastness of space to study the effects the vacuum and the radiation emitted from the sun would have on them. Not only did they survive for days, they carried on as per usual.
Even more surprising was that several of the water bears gave birth while in space and returned to Earthly home with the baby tardigrades in tow.Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson discussed them on his 2014 television series, Cosmos: A Space time Odyssey.
He informed the audience that the life form has been on the planet for 500 million years and are found and can live (and flourish) literally everywhere on Earth- even in the vents in the crushing depths of the ocean. Water bears owe their success not only to their resilience, but to their ability to lay dormant for decades.
They expel water and dehydrate themselves until their water composition is almost non existent. They lay in suspended animation, a state called a ‘tun’ for as long as necessary; scientists 30 years ago froze two tardigrades to test this. In 2016 they were thawed. Only one of the tardigrades survived the freeze, but after it had thawed it laid 16 eggs, and 14 hatched into viable water bears.
In fact, because of their ability to remain in a tun for decades some would argue that these moss piglets cannot die. They’re the only organism to survive the vacuum of space and also the only organism to survive all five of the mass extinction events that have occurred on Earth.
The tardigrade has survived for millennia, and will continue to do so for millennia to come.
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